The University of Maine had some tough calls go against it Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Va.
With the outcome hanging in the balance, the Black Bears made a gutsy call of their own that rewarded their persistence and fight.
Trailing by a point in overtime, backup quarterback Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth called his own number in a “muddle field goal” formation and dived headfirst into the end zone for the two-point conversion that gave 19th-ranked UMaine a 25-24 Colonial Athletic Association victory over No. 6 James Madison in front of 24,023 fans.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s Bears (4-1, 2-0 CAA) came from behind four times to earn their first win at Harrisonburg since 2002 and only the program’s second ever at Bridgeforth.
“It was the kind of game you love to be a part of,” an excited Cosgrove said.
“This is unbelievable and to come down here and get a win against an opponent like James Madison with all their success of late, it means a lot for our guys,” he added.
James Madison (4-2, 2-1 CAA) grabbed the lead again in overtime, with Jordan Anderson (26 carries, 212 yards) running six straight times for 24 yards to set up quarterback Jace Edwards’ 1-yard scoring plunge.
Camerson Starke’s PAT kick made it 24-17.
UMaine needed three plays to score as quarterback Warren Smith (28-for-40, 295 yards) fired a 16-yard pass to Arthur Williams to set up a 7-yard TD toss from Smith to tight end Justin Perillo (9 catches, 101 yds.).
For the conversion, the Bears lined up in a formation that had snapper Perillo and Treister, in the “shotgun,” alone in the middle of the field, kicker Brian Harvey and Troy Eastman wide right and the other seven players bunched up on the left side.
“I have the option to shift (the players) and just kick it, to have it snapped over to Pushaun (Brown) and run ‘outside zone,’ or I could run a sprintout to the right and have a run-pass option,” Treister explained. “I chose the latter and had to win the game on that one.”
Treister tucked the ball and raced toward the goal line, where he lowered his shoulder and absorbed a violent hit by two players that launched him into a helicopter spin and into the end zone for the winning points.
“We did overcome everything and it feels great, especially being my senior year,” Treister said. “I’ve never beaten them before and to come down here in this atmosphere, which is great to play in, and get a ‘W’ is just an awesome feeling.”
The conversion was No. 2 on ESPN’s “Plays of the Day.”
It was the second straight win over a top-six team for UMaine, which overcame having the apparent go-ahead touchdown pass called back on a penalty in the fourth quarter — and surrendering 304 rushing yards.
“I thought we played very resilient for 60 minutes,” Cosgrove said. “I thought we played very tough, together, as a team.”
Neither team led by more than a touchdown.
The Dukes grabbed the momentum and a 17-14 lead, driving 72 yards on 13 plays in the fourth quarter. However, a fumbled handoff on an end-around resulted in an 8-yard loss that forced JMU to settle for Stark’s 32-yard field goal with 2:08 left.
That came on the heels of a UMaine possession during which an apparent, 36-yard scoring pass from Smith to Williams (4 catches, 64 yds.) was called back on a controversial illegal block penalty against Derek Session.
“That took away a touchdown for us,” Cosgrove said.
UMaine punted and JMU drove the field to take the lead.
The relentless Bears answered, sparked by a 30-yard hookup from Smith to Perillo on the first play. However, Anthony McDaniel’s sack of Smith helped the Dukes hold. Brian Harvey drilled a 34-yard field goal from the right hashmark to tie it with 44 seconds remaining.
The Bears rushed for only 90 yards, but Smith and the offense moved the ball through the air. UMaine also was 7-for-15 on third down and had only one three-and-out.
Wideout Maurice McDonald (9 rec., 67 yds.) was another key in the pass game.
Anderson set the tone for the Dukes’ vaunted run attack, bolting 80 yards on his first carry in the first quarter to stake the Dukes to a 7-0 lead.
However, the Bears contained JMU, making it earn yardage in smaller increments. Edwards went 13-for-17 with 98 yards passing.
UMaine tied it 7-7 with a 14-play, 79-yard march that consumed 7 minutes, 2 seconds. Smith completed three third-down passes to set up his 5-yard TD toss to McDonald with 7:44 left in the second quarter.
JMU answered with a 60-yard scoring drive. Dae’Quan Scott’s 4-yard run gave the hosts a 14-7 lead.
UMaine tied it, moving 68 yards on 10 plays. Smith’s 18-yard scramble on a third-down play from the 22 led to Terrel Walker’s 4-yard TD run with 45 seconds left in the half.
The UMaine defense was led by senior safety Trevor Coston (10 tackles), sophomore linebacker Troy Russell (8), senior linebacker Vinson Givans (8), sophomore cornerback Darlos James (8) and senior lineman Raibonne Charles of Windham (8).
Stephon Robertson led James Madison with 12 tackles and Pat Williams made 10.
UMaine returns home Saturday for a 1 p.m. homecoming game against Rhode Island.